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Good morning, it’s Tuesday, September 26, 2023. In today’s edition, states prepare for a federal shutdown; lawmakers form bipartisan AI working group; Newsom, DeSantis to debate:
SHUTDOWN: States are preparing for what looks like an inevitable federal government shutdown that could impact states’ abilities to pay for food stamps, child care subsidies and housing vouchers, though programs providing food aid to pregnant and nursing women are already running low on funds. States have often used their own funds to fill in federal gaps, but there’s no guarantee that money gets reimbursed. (Pluribus News)
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) are planning to use state money to keep national parks open during a shutdown. Cox was lieutenant governor when the state spent $1 million to keep parks open during a 2013 shutdown — money that the feds never paid back.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: A bipartisan group of 60 state legislators from almost 30 states will meet this fall to consider artificial intelligence and ways to regulate the technology. A working group held its first virtual meeting on Sept. 14, spearheaded by Connecticut Sen. James Maroney (D). (Pluribus News)
SAVE THE DATE: We’re hosting Sen. Maroney, and three other lawmakers deeply involved in the artificial intelligence debate, for a special Pluribus Spotlight event on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m. ET. Join us for a preview of what’s coming next session. Register right here.
PREEMPTION: North Carolina’s new budget, approved on party lines last week, bans local governments and municipalities from establishing a minimum wage or other employment-related requirements on private business. North Carolina is not a home rule state, meaning the state must grant authority to local governments to act. (Carolina Journal)
HEALTH CARE: North Carolina will formally launch Medicaid expansion on Dec. 1, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Monday. The new expansion, approved under the state budget, will extend coverage to about 600,000 low-income adults. (Associated Press)
EDUCATION: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed legislation banning school boards from rejecting textbooks based on lessons about contributions of people from different racial backgrounds, sexual orientations or gender identities. The law came after a Southern California school district rejected social studies curriculum that included lessons about Harvey Milk, the former San Francisco supervisor. (Associated Press, Los Angeles Times)
MORE: Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R) appointed a group of ten lawmakers to study the feasibility of rejecting $1.9 billion in federal education funding. McNally said the panel will examine restrictions and mandates to determine whether they are “harmful” to children. (Tennessee Lookout)
ESG: A federal judge sided with the Labor Department over a new rule allowing employee retirement plans to consider environmental, social and governance factors when making investment decisions, over the objections of 25 Republican attorneys general. The judge ruled the Labor Department did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act in implementing the new rule. (Newsweek)
Twist: The federal judge in question is Matthew Kacsmaryk, the Trump appointee whose ruling temporarily halted the use of mifepristone, the common abortion drug, earlier this year.
In Politics & Business
MISSOURI: A Cole County judge rejected ballot language for six initiative petitions aimed at enshrining the right to an abortion in the state constitution after ruling Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s (R) summaries were “argumentative” or unfairly biased. Ashcroft’s summaries included the words “dangerous,” “unregulated” and “unrestricted” to describe abortions that would be made legal under the proposed amendments. (Missouri Independent)
OREGON: The state Court of Appeals on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to decide whether Republican state senators who had more than 10 unexcused absences can run for re-election next year. A state law approved by voters in 2022 bans those with too many absences from seeking a new term; GOP senators who walked out to protest the Democratic majority’s agenda are challenging the law’s constitutionality. (Associated Press)
MICHIGAN: Ford Motor Company is pausing construction of a massive electric vehicle battery plant near Marshall, Mich., over concerns about the company’s ability to be competitive in the space. Michigan lawmakers approved $1.7 billion in public subsidies to build the plant, which would have created 2,500 new jobs. (Detroit Free Press)
TEXAS: Four whistleblowers who reported Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to the FBI said they would continue a legal fight to expose alleged wrongdoing after the state Senate voted to acquit. In a filing to the state Supreme Court, whistleblowers said Paxton had failed to uphold parts of their settlement, including a $3.3 million payment and a promise to apologize. (Texas Tribune)
By The Numbers
18: The number of cases of alleged illegal voting in which Ohio prosecutors brought criminal charges, out of 641 incidents Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s (R) office identified as potential crimes since 2019. (Ohio Capital Journal)
111: The number of Iowa boards and commissions, out of 256 total, recommended for cuts or consolidation by a panel set up to review the size of government. The Iowa Boards and Commissions Review Committee will submit its unanimous final report to Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and the legislature for consideration in next year’s session. (Des Moines Register)
Off The Wall
An undisclosed buyer spent $262,500 to purchase a pair of tickets to a play that ran 160 years ago. Boston-based auctioneer RR Auction said the tickets, for the April 14, 1865 production of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, went for substantially over the $100,000 presale estimate. The balcony seats would have been right across from the box where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at that night’s performance. (Boston Globe)
The former home of the late scam artist Charles Ponzi is for sale in Lexington, Mass. You can purchase the 7-bedroom, 6-bath home for a list price of $4.3 million. (MassLive)
The house sold in 2021 for $3.5 million, so an $800,000 price increase in two years is a little less than the 50% return Ponzi promised his investors-slash-victims when he operated his Ponzi scheme in the 1910s.
Quote of the Day
“I do think we need to move quickly because all too often the technology gets too far out of the barn before we regulate it.”
— Connecticut Sen. Maroney, on his interstate AI task force. (Pluribus News)